July 15, 2011 / 5:52 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 3-Roche's pertuzumab helps breast cancer patients

* Met primary endpoint of PFS in late-stage trial

* Patients were given pertuzumab plus Herceptin and chemo

* To seek approval with health authorities this year

* Shares rise 0.2 pct

(Adds detail, background, analyst, stock price)

By Katie Reid

ZURICH, July 15 (Reuters) - Patients with advanced breast cancer lived significantly longer without their disease getting worse when treated with Roche’s pertuzumab and Herceptin along with a type of chemotherapy, a late-stage study showed.

The Swiss drugmaker said on Friday it planned to seek approval with health authorities based on these results this year, in another boost to its oncology franchise.

“Should the drug be approved, pertuzumab would be used on top of Herceptin and docetaxel. Herceptin currently sells circa 2 billion Swiss francs in this setting,” Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.

“We believe pertuzumab could add an additional 500 million francs ($611 million) in sales if approved with a solid risk benefit rate,” the analysts said, adding this could boost earnings per share by around 1 percent a few years down the track.

At 0747 GMT, Roche stock was trading 0.22 percent firmer, outperforming a near flat European healthcare index and a 0.8 percent drop in the Swiss blue-chip market.

The study showed that patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer taking this combined therapy of targeted medicines and docetaxel chemotherapy lived for longer without their disease getting worse compared with those who only received Herceptin and the chemotherapy, Roche said.

Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, said no new safety signals were observed in the trial in which Roche met its primary endpoint of progression free survival (PFS).

The group has flagged pertuzumab as one of its brightest near-term prospects.

Late last year, a clinical trial showed that combining experimental antibody drug pertuzumab with Herceptin, an antibody that was first approved in 1998, and chemotherapy shrank tumours in nearly half of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Both antibodies are designed to block the function of HER2, a protein produced by a specific gene with cancer-causing potential that is generated in about 25 percent of breast cancers. Because the drugs bind to different regions of the HER2 receptor, researchers aim for more complete blockage of the pathway. ($1 = 0.819 Swiss Francs) (Editing by Dan Lalor and Hans-Juergen Peters)

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